Brazil: Victorious MFP Meeting Brings Together Peasant Women in the Ponte da Aliança Operário-Camponesa Region

Editor’s Note: We reproduce the following unofficial translation of the Victorious MFP meeting that has brought peasant women together in Ponte da Aliança and published by Movimiento Feminino Popular

On March 8, International Working Women’s Day was celebrated through a vigorous meeting of peasant women that gathered, throughout the 7th, young and adult companions from 10 peasant and quilombola (descendants of runaway slaves) areas, including Furado Modesto, Furado Seco, Vila, Sebo, Tanquinho, Brilho do Sol, Araruba, Caxambu, Conquista da Unidade em Varzelândia, all neighbors of the Revolutionary Area Ponte da Aliança Operário-Camponesa (Worker-Peasant Alliance Bridge) from which a delegation also participated.

Peasants exhibit banner from the 2nd MFP Meeting in the North of Minas Gerais. Photo: MFP

The meeting took place at the school of remaining quilombolas in the village of Furado Modesto, a large space where it was possible to apply sanitary measures with distance between the different communities. Unfortunately, this year the elders did not participate due to the pandemic, but they expressed their agreement and support for the activity, which is a key issue in quilombola communities where older people are heard and have a lot of prestige!

Several women and men companions participated in the organization of the Meeting, which is in its second edition in this Area of ​​Quilombola Remnants, including the companions of LCP who worked in logistics and supported the call. The school was mowed and cleaned, a lunch and snack collection was made, the MFP handkerchiefs were made, as well as the music folders with the photo of the companion Elzita Rodrigues, founder of the MFP in the North of Minas. There was great expectation and apprehension due to the pandemic and also the road conditions, due to the rains.

Meeting with Young Peasant Women

The first part of the meeting was held with young women, where 20 companions between 11 and 21 years old participated with great enthusiasm and interest. When the girls arrived, they already found a stool with books and other promotional materials, such as the newspaper A Nova Democracia. Many of these young women are known to us, as they are daughters of peasants and quilombolas who conquered the land through struggle and who grew up in the areas that have been taken over. A health commission was already elected to guarantee the use of hand sanitizer and masks by all, which was assumed by them with full responsibility.

Young peasant women display the MFP flag during the vigorous Women’s Meeting, in the North of Minas Gerais. Photo: MFP

After coffee with popcorn, the young women took on the second task, setting up the decoration of the event. They quickly mobilized to paint and paste promotional posters, organize chairs, posters for the “Vaccine for the People Now!” campaign, and identification for cups to ensure individual use. Of course, there was no shortage of children to make the meeting brighter and more joyful. And for those who underestimate them, arguing that they cannot understand and apply sanitary measures, a lesson: they all wanted masks and every 5 minutes they ran with their companions to reapply hand sanitizer.

The meeting with the young women began with an intervention to greet the MFP leader of the region with the song “Fighters of the Revolution.” Soon afterwards the young women received red armbands, which they themselves helped to make, as a symbol that they were now organized by the Popular Women’s Movement.

In the sequence, they all presented themselves, nickname, age, community, and a presentation of the movement was made, about the class-conscious position regarding the organization of women criticizing bourgeois and petty-bourgeois feminism, criticizing the fallacy of ’empowerment’ and by so also regarding March 8 and the meaning of this date, on the three mountains that exploit and oppress the Brazilian people and on the four mountains of female oppression, which falls on the women of the people. The girls were very interested in this explanation, as it confronted the version of the monopolies of communication that present March 8 as the day of all women.

A young leader from MFP spoke about the experience of the Servir ao Povo Theater Group and a short staging was improvised to explain what theater is. The theme was two women talking and another who was from MFP called the other to go to a meeting of the MFP nucleus, in which the other refused, saying she had a lot of housework to do. Amid applause and laughter, everyone understood what theater was.

Most of the women companions are black, and we spoke with them about the importance of the self-affirmation of the black people, of the resistance of Palmares, of Dandara, of the value that we have for our ideas and not for our body, the pressure of European standards of ‘beauty,’ and several questions about sexuality, unplanned pregnancy, dating, and we also touched on the serious problem of sexual violence, a problem experienced in the vast majority of homes and which is a real taboo. For the time we had, we could not go into all the themes, but the creation of the Servir ao Povo Cultural Group was proposed to develop activities with the youth within the areas, to understand and spread the culture of the black people, and, from there, also maintain the nucleus of the black people, the women’s movement along with young women. The excitement was general. Everyone wanted to schedule actions. 

The song “Bella Ciao” was chosen to be the anthem of the Cultural Group and even choreography was invented, as well as the slogans of “Awakening the Revolutionary Fury of the Woman,” which was rehearsed several times, a little embarrassed at first, to later become a beautiful cry of the young women peasants and quilombolas! Awaken the woman’s revolutionary fury!

Part 2: The Big Reunion!

After the delicious collective lunch and the departure of some young women, 38 companions gathered in what represented our 2nd meeting, because many who were present were at the meeting of 2020 and new communities that were not present last year participated now, even in the midst of measures of imposition and curfew (which is being imposed throughout the North of Minas). It was a great joy to meet the companions again, too bad we could not embrace to celebrate with the passion due to this great day.

We started with the hymn “Fighters of the Revolution” and a just tribute to comrade Elzita, who in October will celebrate 10 years of death and ended with the song “Conquer the Land,” the chorus was sung by the entire choir and the slogans were answered with recognition of those for whom it was no longer new. The meeting recalled the debates that started last year and the increase in violence against women in the midst of the pandemic, the genocide committed against the people by the generals and Bolsonaro, the need for the development of the Sanitary Committees of Popular Defense to apply measures to protect the people, demand the vaccine for the people now, and the need to resist imposing isolation, raising more fights for our rights, against the counter-revolutionary offensive! They all took it to their villages and areas, campaign posters and songs committed to making the new MFP core work. A leader of MFP solemnly handed over a flag of the movement to a companion of the New Nucleus, as well as her oath.

The peasants made handkerchiefs with the acronym MFP to be displayed during the Meeting. Photo: MFP

During the discussions, we discussed the increase in violence against women and a partner recalled with sadness and hatred the terrible feminicide that occurred in the community 20 years ago, against a young woman who was the mother, sister, and daughter of companions present. We reaffirm the movement’s position against the idea spread by state organizations and feminist movements, which affirm that women have to denounce and that the creation of women’s police stations would be an achievement for the people. We reaffirm that every police officer is an extension of domination against the people, it is useless to report it to the police and authorities of this Old State, as they have no interest and cannot solve any problem of the people, still less that of violence against women, there is a problem that only the revolutionary struggle will put an end to! The companions recalled how these cases are handled by the police. The Maria da Penha law has resulted in an increase in violence against women and the problem of rape, the treatment given by the authorities of this Old State, only exposes women and young people and does not solve anything. Furthermore, we argue that the cause of this violence lies in this class society, in this backward society of exploitation and oppression, and that only the poletarian revolution can emancipate the women of our people.

We defend the right to women’s self-defense, we defend the organization of a strong women’s movement to confront, persuade, and raise awareness in the education of men and women: adults, youth and children. Especially among colleagues about the role of women in the struggle, that we are half of our class, as Chairman Mao said, we hold up half of the sky! That denunciations should be made to the people themselves, to their organizations that will judge fairly and take the appropriate measures in each case, that is, how much more is the organization of women to impose their rights and aspirations!

Long live the Popular Women’s Movement!

Only the revolutionary struggle will end violence against women!

Down with the genocide of the poor people! Vaccine for the people now!